Mentoring the #BestClassEver

A CUDE journey of passion and purpose

Last week, I had the incredible opportunity to mentor the future #BestClassEver with The Foundation. It was like a repeat of my own DE experience—a chance to share my passion for credit unions and solidify why I believe so deeply in this ecosystem.

Excitement filled the air as bright-eyed mentors and eager participants greeted each other on Monday morning. There was dancing, singing (a theme for the week!), and an undeniable energy. We mentors knew this week would spark a passion and dedication to credit unions that would ripple throughout the industry.

CUDE Day of Service

CUDE day of service at Forward Garden.

There were some serious “lightbulb moments” as a mentor. It was an honor to witness countless breakthroughs throughout the week, as well as the celebratory graduation ceremony that’s truly special. The group was a fantastic mix: credit union professionals and representatives from supporting organizations, all united by a shared mission—serving members and amplifying the credit union message.

CUDE June 2024

DEvelopment Enablers focused on building the tallest tower out of of straws and a little bit of tape.

Graduation day arrived, and the new CUDEs proudly donned their badges, each a symbol of accomplishment. The buzz and excitement were palpable.

John Cassidy, TruStage June 2024

John Cassidy fellow CUDE & Director, Credit Union Systems Relations with our friends at TruStage congratulating the next class of CUDEs.

Following graduation, mentors were invited to share their DE experiences, projects, and parting wisdom. Here’s mine:

My DE journey began in May 2022. The world was just emerging from a long pandemic period. Like many, I carried experiences that profoundly impacted me. Upon arriving at the hotel, I met a fellow attendee proudly displaying a water bottle promoting mental health awareness. This became my first opportunity to share my story, and it fostered a powerful connection for both of us.

CUDE June 2024

Fellow mentor, classmate from North Carolina who sat down on the bus with me and allowed me to share my story.

The connections continued. On the bus ride to class, I sat next to a woman from North Carolina who shared her husband’s struggles with mental health. Once again, I felt compelled to share my story, and the experience fostered a sense of understanding.

Poem right outside the door of our CUDE classroom in May 2022.

Before entering the classroom, our facilitators acknowledged Mental Health Awareness Week. The artwork on the floor—each piece reflecting the artist’s personal story and perspective on mental health—resonated deeply with me. It was another moment of feeling seen.

Throughout that week, I realized I could channel my advocacy for mental health and empathy into the credit union industry, a place I already held dear. As if by fate, our group was assigned the topic of “Health.” It felt like another sign.

The notes from my part of our presentation that I believed were lost until opening my iPad to write this article.

During the initial stages of our presentation, I decided to share my story with my group, eventually leading us to dedicate the presentation to my brother. The feeling of connection was overwhelming.

The dedication to my brother in our CUDE presentation.

CUDE left me with a newfound connection to the credit union industry. I had discovered my “people mission,” and I was ready to integrate it into my growing role within the industry.

Fast forward two years. Here I am, surrounded by the excitement of the newest CUDE class. Invited to share my story and DE project, I spoke openly. My message was clear: While focusing on members and communities is crucial, credit unions must prioritize the mental health and well-being of their own employees. Without a healthy workforce, exceptional member service becomes impossible.

Recent presentation with Associated Credit Union at their Lunch-N-Learn in Atlanta, GA.

This brings me to my DE project: I completed training and have become a certified facilitator for the American Foundation of Suicide Prevention’s “Talk Saves Lives: An Introduction to Suicide Prevention.” By bringing this program to credit unions and their supporters, I hope to emphasize the importance of mental health, starting with ourselves. Only then can we truly extend empathy to our members and communities.

I went into this week with the intention of mentoring others, but once again, I felt seen. To the new CUDEs, I see you too.

Robbie Young

Robbie Young

Robbie Young is VP of Strategic Growth at, the leading digital trade publication for the credit union ecosystem. Robbie is a CUDE (May 2022, otherwise known as the ... Web: Details